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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, June 16, 2018
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OPINIONS

Nature vs. nature?

Ninfa Leonardia

Hardly had the news that an increase in wages had been approved came out, when another report followed about the new peso-dollar exchange rate that virtually negates the effect of the former. Well, life is full of ironies, and, another one is the report that 200 schools are petitioning to be allowed to raise their tuition fees. This will surely raise an outcry, but what can they do? Teachers will demand increase, costs of maintaining the schools will also go up. It is a cycle that we have to put up with.

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We had been talking about the need for a bill on mental health, and it seems that is soon to be realized. The bill, called the Mental Health Act, is now with the President and its authors are reportedly urging him to sign it into law as soon as possible. In justifying the bill, the authors referred to the recent cases of famous chef Anthony Bourdain and noted fashion designer Kate Spade of the United States, who recently committed suicide. But we need not refer to those celebrities, even in our own country, in our media, we see reports of people, including very young ones, taking their own lives.

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By having a law dealing with it, perhaps we can prevent a lot of those incidents that have claimed lives of both young and old, who had been suffering from depression, but were not given the proper attention or treatment. Or maybe even just counseling. A well known socialite in Manila, whose daughter also committed suicide a few years ago, has set up a group that offers help to those who have family members noted to be suffering from depression. I am sorry I was not able to take down the contact number of the group, but it is named after the victim, the young and beautiful girl named Natasha Goulbourn. Maybe those who want to contact them can get help from the internet. Let’s not waste our youth to this malady.

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Meanwhile there is another bill filed in Congress that will require anyone who is planning to build a house, a commercial building or industry projects, to plant trees before they will be granted permits. Is that a reasonable requirement? What if one’s lot is just enough for his house or proposed building? Maybe that would be feasible for those in rural areas, or those with big lots that can provide space for trees. Otherwise, who can be granted permits if the only lot one owns is barely enough for a small house?

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Nature destroying nature? That is what is happening in the world now, including the Philippines. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, its lava and ashes destroyed the forests surrounding it that included those that were part of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales. It seems that until now, almost three decades since, the vegetation in those places have not fully recovered yet. Thousands of families were displaced, and more than 1000 were believed killed. But now, the soil is believed to be fertile, and efforts are being made to plant various trees around the mountain, in the hope that it will not go into a tantrum again.

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Meanwhile, we who live in the shadow of another volcano, Mount Kanlaon, should be thankful that ours has been behaving very well, although now and then we get alarm signals about its condition. But so far, such signals have not worsened and mountain climbers continue to dare and challenge it by climbing to its very top. But they have to be cleared first by officials before they can venture up, for their own protection. And, of course, it provides a scenic view for our province.

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Meanwhile, what is the status of the supposed peace talks between President Duterte and the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Ma. Sison? The President has reportedly cancelled the scheduled one on July 28, but one of his men claims that Sison could be hesitant to come to the Philippines despite presidential assurances. Well, Sison could not have lasted this long as leader of the rebel group if he did not have the intuitions and cunning of one, so it may take more time before such “talks” take place, if at all.

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Well, well. Residents as well as commuters who work in Makati, supposed to be a model city, are no match to the continuing rains that have created potholes and puddles on its streets, causing inconvenience to everyone there. Such road irregularities have worsened traffic and caused delays in travel, not only for workers, but also for schoolchildren. And if the weather continues to be the way it is now until next month, when all schools will be open, one can imagine the mess there will be!*

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